Syrian Arab Republic
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov’s remarks at a high-level Syria event on the sidelines of the General Debate at the 72nd UN General Assembly
The situation in Syria is undergoing serious changes. It has become possible to drastically reduce the level of violence, to improve the humanitarian situation as well as to fight terrorists more effectively. The ISIS-controlled territory continues to shrink. An extremely dangerous hotbed has been eliminated near Deir ez-Zor. The Russian Aerospace Forces continue to effectively assist Syrian forces in their efforts to eliminate the terrorist threat.
We have always underscored that the Syrian crisis can only be resolved by political and diplomatic methods. Russia, Iran and Turkey initiated the Astana process with the active involvement of Kazakhstan. The United States, Jordan and the UN are also acting as observers during this process. Four de-escalation zones have been established in southwestern Syria, Eastern Ghouta, in the northern area of Homs Province plus in Idlib Province.
We praise the collaboration with US and Jordanian partners; it has become possible to stabilise a large area in southwestern Syria as a result of such cooperation. We are noting the role of Egypt that helped launch de-escalation zones in Eastern Ghouta and in northern Homs.
On September 14-15, Astana hosted an international meeting on Syria, with the sides finalising all four de-escalation zones. A trilateral Iranian-Russian-Turkish coordinating centre has been established. The sides are addressing matters of siting checkpoints and monitoring/observation posts, and they have clarified the mandate of deploying forces for monitoring the de-escalation process to prevent incidents between the warring parties.
The Astana process has spurred intra-Syrian dialogue under the auspices of the UN.
De-escalation zones are a temporary measure. They have been established for a six-month long period, and, if necessary, their duration can be extended. At the same time, one should not have the impression that this is a prelude to Syria’s eventual dismemberment or its division into spheres of influence.
The Astana format’s “added value” is proved by a striving of some states to take part in its work and to contribute to normalising the regional situation, including the humanitarian situation.
Today, it is important to support efforts for the establishment of a joint massive opposition delegation that would be able to launch direct talks with the Government team in Geneva in line with a common constructive platform. We support the appropriate initiatives of Saudi Arabia.
We consider it necessary to ensure the participation of Kurdish representatives during dialogue with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic. Efforts to bar them from searching for conflict resolution options might serve as a time bomb for the future of Syria and the entire region.
The work of the International Syria Support Group and its focus groups is of intransient value. While discussing new possible options of cooperation for Syria, it is necessary to prioritise the efficiency of achieving goals stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 2254. It is necessary to work for expanding positive trends and to move forward.
At the same time, we are confident that representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic’s Government must take part in any work touching upon the interests of the Syrian state.
In a situation where hundreds of thousands of people are returning to their homes, including those in the de-escalation zones, it is necessary to provide urgent humanitarian aid via UN and other channels. This includes assistance in rebuilding schools, hospitals and infrastructure facilities. Syria has tremendous requirements on the threshold of its liberation from the dominance of foreign terrorists.
The humanitarian mine disposal process remains an acute issue. The Russian military are doing everything possible to help the Syrians in this area and to prevent new casualties among absolutely innocent people. The UN and other countries wishing to help the people of Syria need to take an active part in this work.
It is unacceptable to politicise the assistance provision process and to refer to the need to wait until the political process has been completed, because the case in point is the future of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Syrians living in extremely strained conditions that are aggravated by current unilateral sanctions.
Thank you for your attention.